Friday, April 16, 2010

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Year 2, Day 106 - 4/16/10 - Movie #471

BEFORE: A sci-fi classic that I've never seen - with a very famous robot, which allows me to link from "Futureworld" and kick off my "alien invasion" chain.

THE PLOT: An alien lands and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets.

AFTER: How about "The Day the Earth was Bored Silly"? This film was boring with a capital "B"!

A flying saucer lands (which pretty much eats up the special effects budget for the whole film) and a spaceman exits, along with his giant robot, Gort. Naturally the army's first response is to shoot first and ask questions later, so the spaceman, Klaatu, is brought to the hospital. Once he recovers he disappears (it helps that he looks exactly like a human...) and lives among the hu-mans in a boarding house.

He contacts one of the world's top scientists, Dr. Barnhardt (Einstein must have been busy) to gather the world's leaders together to hear his message. See, he just wants to talk to us - or perhaps his evil plan is to bore us all to death. In the meantime he enjoys engaging people in social debates - causing people to suspect that he's secretly either a Communist or a civics teacher.

You know a film was made in the 1950's when a woman sees no potential problem with leaving her young boy with a complete stranger, so she can go on a picnic with her boyfriend. "Gee, honey, do you think I should leave my son with that man from the boarding house, the one who seems a little odd, mostly keeps to himself, and knows an awful lot about interstellar physics?" Why, sure, I don't see a problem with that at all - he just wants to buy your son some ice cream, take him to the movies and talk politics. What could go wrong?

Klaatu demonstrates his alien power by causing the entire world to lose electricity for 30 minutes (except for hospitals and planes in flight - he's not heartless...) but if his goal was to get people to listen to him, he probably didn't realize that inconveniencing humans by taking away their cars and TVs, even for a short time, is just going to piss everyone off.

Finally, after being chased by the army and shot - again - Klaatu is ready to deliver his message to the people of Earth. Let me see if I get this straight - Point 1: We, the Federation of Planets, are peaceful people. Point 2: We believe that you, people of Earth, are petty and warlike. Point 3: If you threaten any other planets, we will come back and blow you up. Ummm, can we go back to point #1, where you said you were peaceful? Doesn't point #3 sort of contradict point #1?

Basically, Klaatu wants to warn humans against taking our nuclear weapons and attaching them to rockets, and launching them toward other planets. Fine, except that humanity never would have even thought to do that until you suggested it - since we didn't know that there was life on other planets for us to blow up! Couldn't you just have avoided this situation by NOT landing on Earth to tell us that we had potential enemies in space?

I swear, sometimes people just don't think these things through - even aliens.

As stated, the special effects on this movie were laughably cheap - jeez, even "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers" had better effects. Tomorrow I'll watch the 2009 remake to see how well it improves on the original.

RATING: 3 out of 10 flashlights

No comments:

Post a Comment